Over the Blue Horizon

Child Kimono and the Colors of Japan


"Child Kimono and the Colors of Japan" is a wonderful resource about Japanese kimono and textiles, featuring kimono worn in childhood, beginning with a newborn's first shrine visit and continuing to the shrine visit at the age of 13. 

Author Katsumi Yumioka began his career as a hair stylist, even participating in Christian Dior shows. Eventually he became a kimono stylist and started collecting antique kimono, which led to the establishment of his antique kimono shop, Ichinokura.

Children's kimono use many playful, vivid colors and motifs not found in kimono for adults. The book also introduces the designs and styles used to express prayers for children's health and growth as well as accessories, with explanations of the rituals and other aspects unique to the world of children's kimono. The kimono in this book date from the late Edo through the mid Showa periods (1840 to 1960). Designs include references to toys, legendary tales, idiomatic phrases, popular characters, even designs only possible during the war years. One of the fascinating aspects of chldren's kimono is how they communicate social context. A chapter on seasonal colors presents the colors and design motifs used in kimono for each of the four seasons.

The first chapter in this book is Spring (including combinations of spring colors, the Doll Festival, Boys' Day and the plum, peach, and tree peony patterns). The Summer chapter includes information on Tanabata (Star Festival), and patterns such as waves, insect cages, seashells, and wind bells. It also covers yukata (summer kimono) and happi and hanten coats. The Autumn chapter covers the Full Moon festival, and the chrysanthemums pattern and others. The Winter chapter covers New Year, the biggest holiday in the Japanese year, and several design patterns. Kimono & Ceremonies is a separate chapter, as well as Patterns. There is a photographic index to all of the kimono at the back of the book.

Two outstanding features of the book - the gorgeous photographs, and the fact that the text is in both English and Japanese.

Yumioka has written other books in this series - "Kimono and the Colors of Japan", "Summer Kimono and the Colors of Japan", and "Kimono Sash and the Colors of Japan". 

"Child Kimono and the Colors of Japan" is a brand-new 240-page softcover book published by Pie Books in 2007. This book is a wonderful introduction into Japanese kimono as well as Japanese culture and design.